Santa Barbara’s Foodie Hot Spot – The Lark

IMG_2607Last time we visited Santa Barbara we had a longer list of restaurants to experience, than days. It is becoming a wonderful field-to-table dining destination. One “foodie” spot that we regretted not having time for was The Lark.

Last weekend we had another opportunity to drive up to Santa Barbara for the weekend. We put dinner at The Lark at the top of our activity list.

Located in the thriving Funk Zone and within walking distance from the Santa Barbara train depot, the restaurant is named for the sleek overnight Pullman train of the Southern Pacific Railroad that serviced Santa Barbara from 1910 -1968.

Architect Clay Aurell of AB Design Studio designed the 130 seat full-service restaurant attached to the Lucky Penny wood-fired pizza restaurant.

We made a 5 p.m. reservation on a Saturday night, because we had a 6:15 p.m. event at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Parking along Anacapa near the various wine tasting rooms, we remarked how lively the street was with residents and visitors shopping in the art and crafts stores, sipping wine and meeting friends and family. It has become a big social hub.

Waiting in line to be seated at on the patio, two parties in front of us asked to be seated at the popular communal table inside. We sat near the kitchen window and peeked in to see if Executive Chef Jason Planks was there creating signature dishes. Originally from Texas he was the Sous Chef at Michael Mina’s RN74 in San Francisco.

Our server was very friendly and informative describing that the food is served family style and encouraged to shareIMG_2614 a few dishes. The comprehensive wine list highlights small Santa Barbara County producers and artisan winemakers from afar. Wines start from $9 for a Rose’ of Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County to $18 Red Pinot Noir from JCR, Estate. The average price per glass is $12.

A dish of spicy dusted popcorn was delivered to our table. It didn’t “wow” me.

We started our gastronomical experience with a half size cheese board with a delicious Brie, Point Reyes bleu, and Humboldt fog, pear walnut preserve, cranberry mostarda, stone fruit  membrillo and crisp crostini. I asked for some soft bread too.

Next, we enjoyed Chef Paluska’scrispy Brussels sprouts doused with fish sauce, chopped dates, sesame seeds, Serrano chilies and a squeeze of lime. Since he is from Texas, he loves enhancing dishes with chilies. It was quite good

IMG_2617Our least favorite dish was the warm caramelized Asian pears & red kale salad with hazelnuts, Brie cubes and a smattering of Brussel leaves. A few Saint Andre coffee beans were shredded, yet the dressing lacked pizazz.

Feeling pretty satisfied, we ordered just one more dish, the cast iron roasted Arctic Char served with caramelized​ cauliflower, golden raisins, pinenuts, preserved lime, salmon roe, mint pistou. The mint was fresh and clean tasting and I enjoyed it with the moist fish with a crispy skin.

Dinner is served Tuesday through Sunday from 5 to 10 p.m. There is complimentary valet parking onsite. In addition, three public parking lots are located within a short walking distance; at the Amtrak train station on State Street at Yanonali, on Helena Avenue between Montecito and Yanonali streets and on Garden Street at Cabrillo Boulevard.

Food: ***IMG_2619 Service: *** Cost: $$ 131 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, CA  13010


5 Passover Dinner Seders in LA


Matzah Brei

Passover 2015 begins in the evening of Friday, April 3 and ends in the evening of Saturday, April 11. There are a multitude of restaurants in Los Angeles that are celebrating Passover dinner and seder service. Here are some great places to enjoy the holiday with your family and friends.

1. Petrossian Executive chef Giselle Wellman is preparing special dishes for Passover including savory Matzah Brei served with traditional milk-soaked matzo sautéed with mushrooms and onions, and finished with 20 grams of caviar. It’s served in a colored egg. It is available from Friday, April 3 through Saturday, April 11, and will also be available on the weekend brunch menu through the end of April. 321 N. Robertson Blvd. (310)271-6300. Click here for OpenTable.

2. Jar

Jar is holding Passover seders on Friday, April 3 and Saturday, April 4, with seating at 5:30 p.m. They also will have one on  GuestsSuzanne Tracht And Preech Narkthong will enjoy an appetizer of house-cured salmon and chopped liver, followed by a first course of matzo ball soup in lemongrass broth, asparagus and spring radish salad and hard cooked eggs. The main course will include Jar’s signature pot roast with carrots, caramelized onions and fingerling potatoes; sautéed Alaskan halibut; and fava bean, scallion butter and horseradish mashed potatoes. Assorted macaroons and chocolate eminence lemon cheesecake will be served for dessert. The seder, led by Rabbi Ellen Nemhauser, is $130 for adults and $65 for children ages 12 and under. The price includes tax and gratuity, house wine, coffee or tea. 8225 Beverly Blvd. (323)655-6566. Click here for OpenTable.

3. Mud Hen Tavern

imagesGWRI2EBXMud Hen Tavern is offering a special Passover dinner menu beginning on Saturday, April 4 at 5 p.m. for $45 per person. Diners can start with the house-cured gravlax plate with fava beans, horseradish sauce, marinated beets and caraway matzo, or a vegetarian version made with shaved marinated cucumber. Guests can also enjoy deviled eggs and parsley leaf and apple salad with pickled mustard seed and honey vinaigrette. The slow cooked Moroccan spiced lamb shoulder is served with carrot salad in harissa and lemon, and a vegetarian option is available with roasted cauliflower steaks in Moroccan spices. Black Forest matzo brownies will be served for dessert. Pre-order seder plates are available for $15 and include matzo, charoset, eggs and salt water. Items from the full regular menu are available. 742 Highland Ave. (323)203-0500. Click here for OpenTable.

4. Spago

Spago Beverly Hills will host its 31st annual Passover seder dinner on Saturday, April 4 beginning at 5:30 pm. barbara-lazaroffRestaurant co-founder Barbara Lazaroff began the tradition at the original Spago Hollywood to bring members of the Jewish community together on the festive holiday, as well as guests of different faiths. The meal will be led by Rabbi Arnold Rachlis and Cantor Ruti Briar, from University Synagogue. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the nonprofit, Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger. The cost is $190 for adults and $85 for children under 9 years old. 176 N. Canon Drive. (310)385-0880. Click here for OpenTable.

5. Fleming’s Beverly Hills

Starting April 3rd through April 11th at Fleming’s Beverly Hills, start with either the Fleming’s Matzah Ball Soup or Fleming’s Salad with candied walnuts, dried cranberries, tomatoes, onions. Next select an entree of either a sliced herb-roasted filet of salmon piccata. Sides include a choice of Thai green beans or truffled mashed potatoes. Finish with a rich chocolate cake with a molten center of Belgian chocolate, served with vanilla ice cream and roasted pistachios. All for $60 per person. 252 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, (310)278-8710. Open Table.

Montrose’s Newest Darling – town kitchen & grill

Town Burger

Town Burger

I was saddened to see the Italian Cucina Rustica next to the Japanese restaurant Sake on Honolulu Ave. close its doors permanently. It was just another restaurant in the charming and bucolic town to vacate.

Surprisingly, Town Kitchen & Grill took over the space in January 2015 and had their grand opening 19 days later. Owners Jim and Angela Collins are locals in the community. They have various family members helping out in the contemporary design restaurant.Cody, their niece, is one of their best servers. She is friendly and enthusiastic about the menu and restaurant.

For me, the food needs to be good to come back again. Also, the service needs to be friendly and attentive. It helps if the atmosphere is inviting. Town Kitchen & Bar wins the trifecta for all these requirements.


Jim and Angela put an ad on Craig’s List in need of a terrific chef. When Corey Kelso walked in, they liked him immediately. Jim being a big foodie liked that Kelso was the chef at Mastro’s restaurant in Beverly Hills for almost three years.

He is an expert at grilling protein and writing up whimsical menu dishes such as Spectacular Salmon, Irresistably-

Chef Kelso grills fish expertly

Chef Kelso grills fish expertly

Tender Lamb Chops, Kicked Up Caesar, Not-Your-Mama’s Brussels Sprouts and Just Give Me The Cheese pizza.

We made reservations at 7:45 p.m. and weren’t too hungry, so we split two dishes – The special fish of the day, a halibut on a bed of smashed potatoes and the Town burger. Both were excellent.

The halibut was cooked perfectly and healthier than the certified Black Angus burger with a garlic aioli, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. It was served with a side of their house made crisp chips dusted with a secret spice. Next to the chips is a container of blue cheese for dipping the chips. The creamy blue cheese mellows the heat on the chips. It’s a vegetarian version of buffalo wings dipped into blue cheese. I’m not a big chip eater, however, I actually liked the thick and crisp chips a lot.

For starters the Not-Your-Mama’s Brussels Spouts and flash fried golden brown and tossed with a warm bacon vinaigrette and dusted with Asiago cheese. A table near us ordered the dish and I made a note to try it on my next visit.

The menu offers four salads with dressings made in house. They make their own pizza dough for their four different types from Margherita to rustic sausage. Ask your server to have it prepared “Ramani Style” with Jalapeño peppers and bacon for an additional spicy and savory pie.

On their pasta section they offer an almond and chicken risotto with sun dried cherry tomatoes and a Good Ol’ Fashion Lasagna baked in their 600 degree pizza oven. Since chef Corey became a grill master while working at Mastro’s, he grills the Town rib eye, lamb chops, organic chicken breast and burger expertly.

Desserts worth every calorie

Desserts worth every calorie

Save room for dessert. Cody our server recommended the salted caramel gelato cake. It was a thin layer of chocolate cake and the lightly salted flavored caramel on top. They also have a lemon tart, creme brûlée and a brownie made with double chocolate, vanilla bean ice cream, berries, caramel and chocolate ribbons.

Town has a nice cocktail menu with drinks under $14 and a red and wine menu with glasses starting at $7. Corkage is $20, however if you purchase a cocktail or wine it is free.

Friendly Owners and Staff

The Collins moved to Glendale in the late 60s and have never left the community. They came into Cucina Rustica often for dinner and one night learned that the owners wanted to retire and sell the restaurant. It seemed like the ideal opportunity to mix their love of cooking with their passion for staying in the community. Jim and Angela enjoy strolling through the restaurant and chatting with guests. One of Cody’s aunt’s makes handmade caramels that are presented to guests at the end of the evening.


Cody proudly told us her uncle and aunt changed the interior by removing the plaster wall, revealing beautiful brick. They took out the booths and made a much larger and longer bar. Every stool was occupied while we dined. Guests enjoy the friendly bartenders who are happy to make your favorite drink with their large selection of spirits. It’s a fun spot to sip and eat.

The tables are mostly for two to four guests, however they can easily be pushed together to accommodate larger parties. I recommend making reservations, because the Friday night we dined at Town, it was packed with happy diners.

Food: ***

Beverages: ***

Prices: $8 to $24

Atmosphere: ***

2276 Honolulu Ave. Montrose, California 91020

Phone (818) 248-1881 Website:

All That Jazz at Spaghettini and the Dave Koz Lounge

IMG_1103I can’t think of a better evening than an enjoyable dinner, while listening to toe-tapping music? Learning that the new Spaghettini and the Dave Koz Lounge opened in Beverly Hills, my husband and I made a reservation for dinner on a Friday night and to enjoy the Neo-Ragtime sounds of the mega-talented Dessy Di Lauro.

The sophisticated supper club is the second dining and entertainment destination by restaurateurs Cary Hardwick and Laurie Sisneros. They also own Spaghettini in Seal Beach.

With their 26 years of success in Orange County, they united with renowned Grammy nominated saxophonist Dave Koz, to create a top-notch restaurant offering refined California-inspired Italian cuisine in a state-of-the-art music venue.

Platinum-selling artist Dave Koz has played with Burt Bacharach, Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Celine Dion, Kenny Loggins, U2, Barry Manilow, Luther Vandross and Rod Stewart. He is a humanitarian, entrepreneur, radio host, and instrumental music advocate.

The trio hired Eric Rosen Architects to build an open room restaurant and live music venue with exposed wood beam ceiling, leather booths, white tablecloths and porcelain serving plates.

The owners hired an extremely personable staff that are informative and cheerful with each other and the guests. It creates an upbeat, team serving dining experience for all.

They also lured Executive chef Scott Howard from Brick & Bottle in San Francisco to serve as the culinary director for both restaurants. Not only does he prepare some of the signature Spaghettini dishes from Seal Beach, such as the Parmesan crusted Chilean Sea Bass, but also creates some new innovative dishes for the discerning OC and LA foodies.

With a 7:30 p.m. reservation, we were immediately led to a raised semi-circular booth that was roomy enough for up to four guests and a great viewing spot for the show.

Bread and water service arrived while we looked over the menu. A tray of housemade baguette and toasted Parker House sliced rollsIMG_1094 were served with three condiments in small dishes. There was a delightful jam made of strawberry, raspberry and rose water to spread with caramelized onions and unsalted butter, a sweet, yet savory starter.

Looking out to the dining room filling up with guests, we noticed some diners received a low stool to place their purse, jacket or scarf, instead of hanging it on the back of their chair or putting it on the floor, exemplifying their high-touch service.

Starters on the menu include a creamy, white burrata with strawberry jam and wild rocket arugula; ahi tuna tartare with Yukon chips, and meatballs in creamy polenta. We ordered the Carnaroli medium-grained risotto with an array of mushrooms, a splash of Maderia wine, shaved Parmigiano and Reggiano and chopped chives. The dish was rich, filling and pure comfort food.

This could have been my meal with a flute of Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rose. The sparkling wine is blended from 90% red grapes with a pour of Chardonnay. It’s a vivid pink color with flavors of raspberry, strawberry and red currants. The bubbles offset the creaminess of the risotto.

However, we continue by ordering the heirloom apple and arugula salad with frisee dressed with champagne vinaigrette, Pecorino cheese and chopped walnuts. The chef tweaks some of his dishes weekly. I learned that last week, this salad had Point Reyes blue cheese instead of Pecorino cheese. I like the Pecorino, it’s a widely used, sharper alternatives to Parmesan cheeses. It’s hard texture and sharp salty flavor, is excellent grated over pasta and salads.

For pasta dishes, the spaghetti arrives with five medium-sized meatballs topped with a slightly sweet, garlic San Marzano tomato sauce. The San Marzano tomatoes are thinner with a thicker flesh and offer a stronger, sweeter and less acidic than other tomatoes for sauces.

Chef Howard also prepares a bucatini with cheese and a fiery bucatini with shrimp. His trotolle pasta has a lamb bolognese with feta, and he also makes a spaghettini topped with Dungeness crab, shrimp and Uni butter. For a even more savory dish, Howard’s pappardelle is mixed with short rib sugo and blistered cherry tomatoes.

We ordered the restaurant’s signature lightly crusted parmesan Chilean Sea bass served with asparagus and a potato puree seasoned with a pleasing Meyer lemon butter sauce. We paired this with a glass of Dave Koz Chardonnay. It’s a fruit forward wine with grapefruit and golden apple aromas with a hint of vanilla and oaky finish.

Koz recently partnered with premium Santa Barbara vintner Terravant, Whole Foods Market and California Pizza Kitchen to introduce a new quartet of KOZ wines—with all proceeds benefitting the Starlight Children’s Foundation and its vital mission.
Other entrees include Branzino; salmon with baby artichokes; lamb chops with a cilantro and mint pesto; a pork chop with a maple jus, New York steak with a bordelaise and braised short ribs.

Side dishes are available, however most entrees are accompanied with a vegetable.

Around 9 p.m. the wood walls in the center towards the back of the room slide to the side, as musicians walk onto the stage to warm up and check out the crowd.

There really isn’t a bad seat in the house. The show starts around 9:15 p.m., right as you order coffee and a dessert. Your show tickets will be added to your bill at the end of the evening. If you are interested in the live music only, there is a cover charge and a two drink minimum per person. Seating is first come first served. Check in with the hostess when you arrive to be placed on the waiting list. Seating for the show begins around 8:45 p.m.

IMG_1131For ninety-minutes the stunning Dessy Di Lauro was backed by her stellar seven-piece band with a horn section, and two talented tap dancers. Her musical director/pianist Ric’key Pageot played on keyboard and accordion. Special guest saxophonist, composer, producer, and vocalist, Eric Darius, joined Dessy onstage, as did rapper Anon.

Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge is now offering a power lunch every Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., with California starters, salads, sandwiches, pastas, and entrees from the land and sea. The restaurant offers a more casual approach and a sidewalk patio to soak in the sights of Beverly Hills.

On Sunday the restaurant serves brunch and jazz from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with 94.7 The Wave broadcasting live from inside restaurant and Dave Koz’s protégé Vincent Ingala as the resident musician.

Every Tuesday through Friday, Spaghettini offers Social Hour from 5 to 7 p.m. showcasing bar bites with rotating cocktails and select wines by the glass, including Dave Koz’s label.

For a throughly enjoyable meal and gratifying live music, make a reservation at Spaghettini and the Dave Koz Lounge. Dinner service begins at 6 p.m. every day, except Sunday when the restaurant serves dinner at 5:30 p.m. $$-$$$ 184 N. Canon Drive (310)424-4600.

This was published in the March 12, 2015 issue of the Park LaBrea News and the Beverly Press.

The Bazaar By Jose Andres : A Night of Sipping Champagne and Tapas


Pierre-Samuel Reyne, the sales director for Jacquart

Sipping champagne paired with José Andrés’ tapas at The Bazaar in the SLS Hotel is a great way to start a weekend. Four varieties of Champagne Jacquart, from the Champagne region of France, were poured, and paired with tapas created by celebrity chef, Andrés, named “Outstanding Chef” in 2011 by the James Beard Foundation. Andrés owns restaurants in Beverly Hills, Las Vegas and Washington D.C., and South Beach in Miami. The interior of his Beverly Hills restaurant is a mix of California meets Las Vegas, with an indoor piazza designed by Philippe Starck. Pierre-Samuel Reyne, the sales director for Jacquart, said in 1964, 30 wineries from the Champagne region pooled their expertise in wine making, vineyards and resources to create Jacquart Champagne. Fifty years later, Jacquart is one of the leading internationally-known champagnes. “Jacquart is very popular over in Europe and is now being introduced to the American market,” Reyne said. champ_jac2We started with flutes of Jacquart Brut Mosaique, made with a blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier, providing flavors of pear with a hint of orange peel. A tray of American sturgeon caviar cones was paired with the full brut champagne, offering a pleasing fruity finish. A caprese-style salad was also delivered with sweet cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls on verdant pesto. A board of jamón serrano layered with slices of dry cured ham and lightly toasted bread topped with a delicious tomato jam was served. The acidity of the champagne enhanced the spiced flavors. Flutes of rosé mosaique cuvée with an intense pink hue were poured. Reyne said rosé cuvée is made by either leaving the skin of the grape intact, or adding red wine. The Jacquart rosé is made with pinot noir grapes to create balanced champagne.


Sautéed shrimp with garlic and guindilla pepper

We enjoyed green apple and fennel with manchego cheese and chopped walnuts with the rosé cuvée, which offered an elegant finish of peach and apricot. It is an excellent champagne to sip during an afternoon tea at the SLS, or with Andrés’ crispy chicken croquettes. We also sipped Jacquart’s Blanc de Blancs with Andrés’ Japanese tacos made with grilled eel, shiso, cucumber, wasabi and chicharron. We also enjoyed succulent seared scallops with distinctively smooth romesco sauce. It was a spectacular pairing. The Blanc de Blancs is made with 100 percent chardonnay grapes from Cote des Blancs. The golden color has a nose of cherry blossoms, vanilla and white pepper. It also complemented Andrés’ smoked yellowtail with crispy rice. “Only 150 cases have been sold in the United States, so it is quite a treat to be enjoying this bubbly,” Reyne said. The Jacquart alpha cuvée is the crown jewel of the company. It was made in 2005 from grapes with low acidity that give it a velvety quality. It’s aged for seven years to allow for lovely coloring with notes of honeysuckle and lime. We enjoyed the alpha cuvée with Andrés’ eggplant dipped in buttermilk tempura and topped with honey air. We also ordered a plate of the chef’s tender loup de mer with celery root puree and sea beans, and divine sautéed shrimp with garlic and guindilla pepper. It’s hard to decide which desserts to order, with options like chocolate bonbons, speculoos and praline milk chocolate rocher on the menu. Cookies include alfajore, chocolate chip, vanilla crescent, chocolate mint shortbread and pecan pie varieties. The pastry chef also makes walnut brownies and milk chocolate mousse cake, along with chestnut and chocolate cream puffs. Chocolate-covered pop rocks are also available, as are vanilla, lemon poppyseed, chocolate and red velvet cupcakes. Dinner is served from 6 to 10 p.m., Monday through Wednesday; 6 to 11 p.m., Thursday and Friday; 5:30 to 11 p.m., Saturday, and 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday. $$$$ 465 S. La Cienega Blvd., (310)246-5555. This article was published in the March 5, 2014 issue of the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News.

Cabo San Lucas Bounces Back

IMG_1534_2Flying into Los Cabos International airport, one doesn’t see too much damage from hurricane Odile that hit Baja California Sur on September 13, 2014. However, when you drive towards the hotels and lavish resorts heading towards the Cabo San Lucas Marina, the strongest hurricane ever to make landfall in the Baja Peninsula of Mexico destroyed almost every building with its 125 mph winds.

An estimated 92% of the population was left without power or water. It was the biggest electrical disaster in the history of Mexico, according to the Mexican Electric Company (CFE). There were approximately 30,000 tourists in the Baja during the storm. President Enrique Peña Nieto visited Los Cabos three times within two weeks after Odile hit to approve the rebuilding of homes, increase employment to rebuild Cabo, and repair the infrastructure throughout Baja Sur.

One of the first resorts to open after months of repairing the damage was the Fiesta Americana Grand Los Cabos. The resort IMG_1352officially opened to guests on November 23, 2014 with new paint, furniture, a new lobby, spa, restaurants and landscape. “There was glass everywhere,” said staff member Pablo, as he took us to our room 1117 during Valentine’s weekend. “I stayed with the guests in the bunker room for days. We had beds, food and a large bathroom for everyone,” said Pablo.

Many hotels had backup generators, water and food supplies for guests, but their reserves grew thin as they cared for tourists stranded after the storm. As soon as the airport was deemed safe and available for flights, the guests left for home and crews worked 24/7 to get the Fiesta Americana resort up and running by Thanksgiving, a very busy season in Cabo San Lucas. DSC_0456

The Fiesta Americana has 249 guest rooms, seven restaurants, five bars and five swimming pools. The resort offers an all-inclusive option for guests that includes food and beverages. The friendly staff were attentive and catered to all the guests needs cheerfully. They were pleased that the resort was full again.

January through March February is an ideal time to visit Cabo to see the migration of the Pacific Gray Whales. Females arrive in the warm lagoons of the Gulf of California to give birth to their young. Every day we looked out along the coastline to see whales spouting water from their blowholes, breaching, splashing, and slapping the water with their tails. Usually there were at least one or two whale-watching boats following close behind.DSC_0494

We had a routine each day. Our mornings began with a sit down breakfast at the Peninsula restaurant overlooking the ocean. For lunch we would have a light snack after snorkeling and swimming in the pool. By sunset, we got ready for an early dinner.

The first night we dined at the handsome La Bodega Steakhouse at the Fiesta Americana for fresh fish specialities and steaks.

The second night we drove into town to eat at the The Office, perhaps the most famous spot on Playa Medano in Cabo San Lucas. It suffered damage from Odile, yet opened on October 1, 2014.

The next night we enjoyed Mexican cuisine at the beautiful Hacienda Beach Club & Residences along Medano Beach. The resort was IMG_1399closed for repairs for about five weeks after Odile hit. We learned from a staff member, that what helped save all of the windows in the elegant restaurant were hurricane protectors that were purchased and installed days before the storm.

Driving back to the airport to fly home, we noticed that every resort North of the Fiesta Americana were still closed to guests while being repaired. Many restaurants, bars, and shops displayed, “We are now open” signs to alert visitors and locals. Tours and attractions are reopening by the dozens every day. Cabo San Lucas is ready for tourists to visit and enjoy their sun, warm water, whales, beaches, restaurants, resorts, activities and shops. Power, water, internet, telephone and cell service have been back to normal for months.

Cabo has bounced back and is now better than ever.

This article was published in the March issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY. It was also shared in the Cabo Times Daily News.

Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa

IMG_0685Walking into the Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa, we were pleasantly surprised with its face lift. The exterior has been painted in the green tones, while inside was a table filled with a variety of cheese, crackers, fruit and chips for guests to enjoy in the beautiful lobby area or sitting by a roaring fire.

Exploring Lake Arrowhead last month, we didn’t see a lot of snow at the elevation of a little over 5,100. We had to drive to Running Springs to see a sprinkling of icy white covering.

The lake was calm, and the boat docks were empty of boats during the winter months, except for the double-deck Lake Arrowhead Queen, a stately 60-seat paddle wheeler. She runs year- round from her Lake Arrowhead Village dock, cruising next to forested pine trees and million- dollar homes on the IMG_0732sparkling blue lake.

Guests onboard learn about the fascinating history of the lake, such as the area was originally called Little Bear Valley until the Arrowhead Lake Company bought the area in 1920 and changed the name to Lake Arrowhead. Many of the homes around the lake were once owned or still are owned by famous movie and television stars.

Over 100 movies and television episodes have been filmed at this location to replicate the setting of Canada, Switzerland or Alaska.
The first film – The Romance Of The Bar O, starring Bronco Billy Anderson, was shot in 1911. Bing Crosby, Ethel Barrymore, and a young Natalie Wood made the movie, Just For You, in Lake Arrowhead in 1952. Bob Hope, Frankie Avalon and Tuesday Weld filmed, I’ll Take Sweden here in 1965.

IMG_0687The Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa is now a Marriott, Autograph Collection, known for its upper upscale and luxury independent hotels. These properties are located in dynamic and preferred destinations worldwide. Each one is unique with its own distinct perspective.

Autograph is an appropriate designation for the Lake Arrowhead Resort, because the movie star history.

The property is the finest accommodations in the So Cal mountains, featuring 162 guest rooms and 11 luxurious suites with many rooms offering lake views with mountain-lodge touches.

In the lobby area are photos of many of the stars who made movies nearby.

Most of the guest rooms have outdoor balconies or patios with two chairs and a table, ideal for sitting out with a cup of coffee in the morning or glass of wine at sunset. The queen-furnished rooms have two queen beds and a shower/tub combination, while all king-furnished rooms are designed with a glass-enclosed walk-in shower. All the suites have bathrooms with a large walk-in shower and a separate deep-soaking tub.

There is a full-service spa offers massage, manicures and pedicures, facials and fitness classes. Outside is a large pool and hot tub IMG_0695overlooking the pine trees and lake.

The onsite restaurant Bin 189, offers tree and lake views while guests enjoy a seasonal wine inspired menu.

Today the Lake Arrowhead Village is the area’s main commercial gathering spot for both visitors and locals. There are a variety of boutiques, discount outlet stores, restaurants, and a Stater Bros. supermarket. During the summer, the Village offers free summer concerts on the center stage from May through September each Friday and Saturday night.

Families are attracted to the Family Go-Carts next to the beach, McKenzie water skiing school, and a playground for ages 5-12.

IMG_0731The Village celebrates many special events throughout the year- Easter, the 4th of July, Oktoberfest and Christmas.
It’s an ideal weekend getaway to enjoy the seasons, the fresh mountain air and beautiful lake views.

To reserve a room at The Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa – Marriott Autograph Collection, call (909) 336-1511 or log onto

This article was published in the February 2015 issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.

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